Peacekeeping: February 17, 2005


The prompt relief efforts by the U.S. Navy in the aftermath of the recent Indian ocean tidal waves has bolstered efforts by the Department of Defense to plan, and train, for more such disaster relief, and peacekeeping, efforts in the future. Many admirals and generals have resisted this in the past. But the Indian ocean operations showed that combat ready personnel had no problem carrying out relief operations. The sailors and marines got some good training as well, as they had to use their equipment under adverse conditions. The U.S. Army has already learned that lesson, during 1990s peacekeeping operations in the Balkans. Although the troops were not fighting, they were operating under stressful conditions. Patrols still went out and intelligence operations were intense. That peacekeeping experience proved very useful in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of officers and troops were able to draw on their Balkans experience when confronted with similar situations in Iraq. Even something as seemingly mundane as patrolling among hostile civilian populations, conducting raids and searches, and manning roadblocks, was a lot easier in Iraq as a result of Balkans experience. This reminded everyone that operational experience, even when youre not shooting a people, has substantial benefits for the troops. The war on terror is likely to require more peacekeeping, than warmaking, skills, and the Department of Defense is moving towards developing better training and preparation for these operations. 




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